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Tuesday, June 25, 2024 | Back issues
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White House Expands Travel Ban to Six More Nations

The Trump administration expanded its controversial travel ban to six new countries Friday, sparking widespread condemnation from civil rights groups who claim the new restrictions are motivated not by national security but anti-Muslim bias.

(CN) – The Trump administration expanded its controversial travel ban to six new countries Friday, sparking widespread condemnation from civil rights groups who claim the new restrictions are motivated not by national security but anti-Muslim bias.

Under the expanded travel ban, the United States will suspend visas for immigrants from Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Nigeria. The government will also stop issuing diversity visas to nationals of Sudan and Tanzania. Diversity visas allow immigrants from nations with low rates of immigration to the U.S. to obtain green cards by lottery.

The new restrictions, which take effect Feb. 22, were announced in a presidential proclamation Friday.

According to the administration, six new countries were added to the ban because they failed to meet standards for passport technology and sharing information on terrorism suspects and criminals.

“The top responsibility of the president and the Department of Homeland Security is the safety and security of the American people, and these new vetting criteria accomplish that goal and are raising the bar for global security,” acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement Friday.

Despite that explanation, critics insist those reasons were manufactured to justify curbing immigration from African nations and Muslim-majority countries for discriminatory reasons.

“The Muslim ban expansion is about one thing: weaponizing anti-Muslim bigotry for political gain,” said Farhana Khera, director of the civil rights group Muslim Advocates. “Like the administration’s earlier Muslim bans, this expanded ban overwhelmingly targets Muslims and forces tens of thousands of Americans to sacrifice their families, their health and their educational and professional opportunities.”

Critics have dubbed the travel restrictions a “Muslim ban” because three prior versions of the measure mostly targeted majority-Muslim nations. In 2015, then-candidate Donald Trump issued a statement calling for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

The president’s third version of the travel ban was introduced in September 2017 after prior iterations were blocked by the courts. The third version – which restricts travel from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen – was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote in June 2018.

“The ban should be ended, not expanded,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “President Trump is doubling down on his signature anti-Muslim policy — and using the ban as a way to put even more of his prejudices into practice by excluding more communities of color.”

During the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week, Trump announced the U.S. would be adding more countries to the travel ban.

“We have to be safe,” Trump said. “Our country has to be safe. You see what’s going on in the world. Our country has to be safe.”

Last year, U.S. Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., introduced companion bills in the House and Senate seeking to repeal Trump’s travel ban and limit presidential authority to issue future bans unless such restrictions are “based on credible facts, narrowly tailored to a compelling interest, and circumscribed to the least restrictive means possible.” Neither bill has advanced since they were introduced in April 2019.

Reacting to news of Trump’s expanded travel ban on Twitter Friday, Chu tweeted, “Despite claiming the #MuslimBan was about national security, this ban specifically targets visas for permanent residents – meaning the intention is to separate families. That's why we need my #NoBanAct which requires actual evidence of a threat – exactly what this ban is lacking.”

Chu also announced this week that she will bring with her to next week’s State of the Union address a U.S. citizen from New York who was separated from his family and has been unable to meet his newborn daughter for months due to the travel ban.

Khera of Muslim Advocates said the White House and its allies have overlooked the ban’s impact on American families separated from loves ones. According to Muslim Advocates, more than 1 million Americans were born in the 13 countries now affected by the travel ban.

“The president has never been able to show how banning babies and grandmothers makes us safer,” Khera said in a statement Friday.

Despite a Supreme Court victory upholding the ban, a federal judge in Detroit last year advanced a lawsuit challenging the administration’s national security justifications for the restrictions. Another judge in San Francisco advanced a separate lawsuit in 2019 claiming the Trump administration uses a sham process to deny waivers to virtually all immigrants from nations affected by the ban.

Follow @NicholasIovino
Categories / Government, International

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